UK and Japan to sign historic defence agreement

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The UK will be the first European country to have a Reciprocal Access Agreement with Japan, the most important defence treaty between the UK and Japan since 1902.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to sign major defence agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on his visit to London today.

The Prime Minister will sign the landmark defence agreement with the Japanese Prime Minister at the Tower of London, allowing UK forces to be deployed to Japan in the most significant defence agreement between the two countries in more than a century.

Years of negotiation will culminate in the signing today, which will rapidly accelerate defence and security cooperation and allow the UK and Japan to deploy forces in one another’s countries. It will also cement the UK’s commitment to Indo-Pacific security, allowing both forces to plan and deliver larger scale, more complex military exercises and deployments.

The UK will be the first European country to have a Reciprocal Access Agreement with Japan, the most important defence treaty between the UK and Japan since 1902.

The UK and Japan agreed the RAA in principle in May, with work ongoing to finalise preparations ahead of the signing today. The defence treaties will be laid before Japan’s Diet and the UK Parliament in the coming weeks.

The signing comes just weeks after the UK and Japan teamed up, alongside Italy, to develop the next generation of combat air fighter jets under the new Global Combat Air Programme. Last month, the UK and Japan also launched a new UK-Japan digital partnership to strengthen cooperation across cyber resilience, online safety and semiconductors.

All three agreements reinforce the UK’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific, and exemplify the depth of friendship between the UK and Japan.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

In the past 12 months, we have written the next chapter of the relationship between the UK and Japan – accelerating, building and deepening our ties. We have so much in common: a shared outlook on the world, a shared understanding of the threats and challenges we face, and a shared ambition to use our place in the world for global good, ensuring our countries prosper for generations to come.

This Reciprocal Access Agreement is hugely significant for both our nations – it cements our commitment to the Indo-Pacific and underlines our joint efforts to bolster economic security, accelerate our defence cooperation and drive innovation that creates highly skilled jobs.

In this increasingly competitive world, it is more important than ever that democratic societies continue to stand shoulder to shoulder as we navigate the unprecedented global challenges of our time.

In addition to defence and security challenges, the leaders are expected to discuss trade, including the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade bloc with a combined GDP of £9 trillion in GDP and home to more than 500 million people.

The leaders will also discuss Japan’s current presidency of the G7, the need to maintain our collective support for Ukraine as we approach the first anniversary of Russia’s illegal invasion, and the UK’s support for Prime Minister Kishida’s focus on economic security, including supply chain resilience.

On Ukraine, the Prime Minister is expected to raise how international support from the UK and G7 partners can be used most strategically to help Ukrainian forces continue their progress on the battlefield and secure a lasting peace.

He will also pay tribute to Japan’s significant package of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, including a recent delivery of generators.

While at the Tower of London today, the leaders will visit Japanese armour on display, which was presented to King James VI and I in 1613 by the then Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada of Japan. The military gift was given to King James to mark the first ever trade agreement between England and Japan.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will host the UK-Japan 21st Century Group at Downing Street on Thursday. The coalition of British and Japanese private sector, public sector, and civil society leaders aims to promote dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.

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